Lysa Parker, co-founder of Attachment Parenting International, had so many wonderful things to say that I decided to break my API post into two parts. See yesterday’s post to learn about API Here’s part two, the story of how Attachment Parenting International was formed, in the words of Lysa herself:

Lysa Parker

Lysa Parker

 

“Barbara (Barbara Nicholson, the other co-founder of API) and I met 29 years ago at our first La Leche League meeting in Nashville . She had just moved to Nashville from Texas , she was a leader applicant with her second child and I was a new mom with a 6 month old baby. We were every LLL leaders nightmare going on with side conversations because we found so much in common; we were both special education teachers, both of our husbands were struggling songwriters, both our husbands were from Texas and they knew some of the same people in the music business, we were both breastfeeding and we both had sons. So you can imagine how quickly we “attached” to each other.  Ironically I wasn’t able to attend too many LLL meetings after that but because our friendship blossomed I learned a lot from Barbara as she went through her leadership process and afterward. I managed to attend LLL area conferences over time and after moving to Alabama , I became a LLL too. After five years of being a leader I went back to teaching in the early 90s and became very discouraged by what I witnessed with my students in 7th and 8th grades- drugs, gangs, sex, fighting, dysfunctional families, abuse and neglect etc.

 

Barbara and I actually got to know each other better long distance because after the boys were in bed we would talk on the phone, or go visit each other and stay up late at night trying to figure out what we could do to get the message of AP out to the mainstream as a prevention model for so many social ills.  It finally evolved into API- we knew that AP support groups were popping up here and there but each had their own interpretation of what AP was that usually included lifestyle choices. As we educated ourselves we learned about attachment theory and were amazed that there was actual science to back up the benefits of AP practices (the Baby Bs that the Sears created.) We wanted to crystallize the essence of AP that related to the baby-parent attachment process that could be supported by research. We were amazed that this research had been in existence for over 50 years yet parents had no clue- it wasn’t being integrated into popular parenting advice. So we decided API would do just that- get the research into the hands of parents as well as professionals through our journal. Currently we have adapted and expanded the Baby Bs into API’s Eight Principles of Parenting which we fully describe in our soon-to-be-released book Attached at the Heart: 8 Proven Principles for Raising Connected and Compassionate Children. We eventually started a leader development process and affiliating support groups around the country. The rest is history…it’s been a real challenge learning how to create, manage and fund a nonprofit organization…still is a challenge. Right now we are solely supported by memberships and donations but are seeking grant money too. We have over 100 leaders, 60+ groups, and right now about 40 leader applicants, most of whom will be starting a new support group. We have approximately 1,000 members and over 6,000 subscribers to our Enewsletter.”

Thank you, Lysa and Barbara, for bringing this wonderful, needed organization into reality, and for putting so much love, thought, and effort into your daily work.

This is the third of five posts I plan to write about babywearing charities. You might also be interested in reading Part I of my interview with Lysa, and my interview with Andrea Howard, owner of No Mother Left Behind.

 

 

 

 

This is the second in a series of interviews that feature babywearing-related charities. You might also be interested in reading about No Mother Left Behind.

Lysa Parker

Lysa Parker

Recently, I had the chance to speak with Lysa Parker, co-founder of Attachment Parenting International. Actually, she is so eloquent, informative, and interesting (and so is her fellow founder, Barbara Nicholson), that I feel compelled to split this interview into two parts. This interview will focus on Attachment Parenting International (API), and what the organization stands for. Tomorrow, I will post Lysa’s account of how API was formed. Please enjoy the following interview. I hope it inspires and informes you as much as it did me!

Andrea: How do you technically define “attachment parenting?” Why are so many parents turning to this parenting philosophy?
 

 

Lysa: Attachment Parenting is based on a psychological theory called “attachment theory” that was proposed by Dr. John Bowlby back in the 1940’s (read about in our book) stating that babies are born with a biological drive to form a strong emotional attachment to a primary giver- ideally the mother. In order to do that the baby elicits what they call “attachment promoting” behaviors that also play into the baby’s survival needs too such as clinging, crying, sucking etc.

We believe so many parents are turning to this style of parenting because they see that current popular beliefs about childrearing aren’t working, that children’s emotional needs aren’t being met causing a host of mental and societal problems; they finally feel validated that their instincts are correct and they can nurture their child the way the feel best and they see the payoff in their connection with their children that they may not have felt with their own parents. There are many reasons and we feel so inspired that so many families are adopting this way of parenting. We know this because we are now receiving over a million hits a month on our website. Parents are seeking answers and we hope they are finding it on our website.

Andrea: What does Attachment Parenting International offer?

Lysa: API offers parents and professionals validation and hope; it offers education, advocacy and support that can’t be found anywhere else. API appeals to parents seeking information about parenting as well as supporting/validating those who already embrace AP. We hear from so many parents who say they feel like they are the only ones in their area that believes the way they do about nurturing their children; they feel unsupported and invalidated by their community and culture. If nothing else our website provides a lifeline to these parents but we really want to empower parents to be active in their community, join a local API support group or become a leader and start their own group. It’s parent-to-parent support that keeps our momentum going. We love the fact that so many fathers have gotten involved attending the meeting and even becoming support group leaders. Too often only mothers benefit from a social network and reading parenting books but we find that many fathers want to get involved too. API is a clearinghouse as well for parents and professionals, offering materials, research, referrals as needed.

 

Andrea: What is the most important thing that people should know about attachment parenting, and Attachment Parenting International?

 

 

 

Lysa: People should know that AP gives parents the knowledge and tools to help them provide a loving home environment for the optimal development of their children; that by doing so they will build a strong connection with their children that will last a lifetime and carry over into their adult relationships and grandchildren; finally that they can help change the world by the way they consciously raise their children. Children who learn empathy and trust from their relationship with their parents become adults who are better able to empathize and feel compassion toward others. The world needs these children! It’s important for people to know that API is a grassroots organization that started with an idea and operates on a shoestring budget- solely funded by memberships and donations. Most of our staff is paid very little and they put in many more hours they are paid for because they are passionate about what they are doing. They have experienced the benefits of AP in their own lives and want to give that to current and future parents.

Barbara Nicholson

Barbara Nicholson

Andrea: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?  Any exciting events/happenings on the horizon for Attachment Parenting International?

Lysa: Barbara and I just participated in the first Webinar hosted by Mothering Magazine last Friday, Aug. 22 with Dr. James McKenna and Dr. Paul Fleiss. We are in the planning stages of scheduling our own Webinars and teleseminars for this fall, likely beginning in late Sept. and throughout October. October will be a big month for us because API will launch our second annual AP month in collaboration with Dr. Bill and Martha Sears. Local groups will join API in hosting special events throughout the month. Of course we are all very excited about the release of our book, slated for October as well. Initially it will be available for purchase off the publisher’s website at www.iuniverse.com/bookstore .

Andrea: What is the ultimate goal of Attachment Parenting International? What do you think will be going on with your organization in 10 years?
 

 

Lysa: The ultimate goal of API is make AP mainstream- nothing short of a complete cultural paradigm shift in the way we perceive and treat children. We want to raise parents’ consciousness about the importance of their relationship with their children. We want to make sure every parent is given the information they need to give their child the best start possible. No one really feels prepared to be a parent- so until we know more and our consciousness is raised, we will default to parenting the way we were parented. That is the key problem in perpetuating the intergenerational cycles of abuse & neglect. In ten years, API will be a strong force in advocating for children and families helping to change government policies and making family issues a priority. We want to empower parents to be their child’s best advocate and make informed decisions rather than giving that power to others. Many AP parents have a long range vision and want to change the world from one of violence to one of peace. They know it can be done but first peace must begin in the home. We’re all just trying to do our little part.

Thank you, Lysa and Barbara, for caring enough to create such a wonderful organization, and for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you’d like to know more about Attachment Parenting International, visit their website.

 

Hello to all my readers and welcome to my first official giveaway on my blog! It’s a great one too! Please enjoy the following interview with Rachel Panush, founder of the Posh Papoose babywearing company. Of all the ring slings out today, Posh Papoose offers some of my absolute favorites. They are made of rich, high-quality fabric, and with quality in mind. I’m thrilled to feature this wonderful company today! I am very interested in the wonderful, family-run babywearing companies that are on the market now, and this is the first of four such interviews.

Keep reading to find out how to win a Posh Papoose Babywearing Prize!

Andrea: The first thing I noticed about Posh Papoose® slings was the abundance of beautiful, unique fabrics you use. Can you tell me about your fabric selection process? How, where, and why do you choose the fabrics you do?

Rachel:I evaluate potential fabrics based on different criteria: my own reaction, aesthetics, customer potential , functionality, wearability, appeal, texture, and price.
After deciding if I like a print or fabric on a visceral level of color & design, then I basically ask myself various questions:
Would it appeal and be flattering to women of different colorings?
Could it be unisex?
Does it have a nice hand feel? Is the fabric the right weight for a sling? How would it look as a sling?

I’m very drawn to sophisticated, contemporary designs and beautiful colors. I like unusual color combinations and abstract designs. My personal design taste includes Klimt, Matisse, Japanese and Scandinavian textiles, Art Nouveau, and mid-century modern. I’d love to make slings in lush fabrics decorated with beads and crystals but it probably wouldn’t be baby-safe!

I find fabrics at  fabric shows, fabric company showrooms, and sometimes if I see something great at the fabric store, I’ll track down the source.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also take into account color trends I’ve noticed in my business and try to predict what I think people will go for. It’s an art, not a formula, and sometimes I’m taken by surprise by the successes and failures in the collection, but I learn from that. I try to have something for everyone.

Andrea: Could you tell me a little bit about the evolution of your business? How did you make the decision to start a babywearing company? How many slings did you make yourself before hiring freelance seamstresses? What do you think the next step will be for Posh Papoose®?

Rachel: I was a professional silk painter for many years before I had children and I always loved beautiful textiles, modern design, fashion, and art. When I was pregnant, I became aware of slings, but the ones I saw in stores did not appeal to me. I went crazy at a fabric store. I made myself about seven slings and then I could not stop! I needed one in every color, to match every outfit. Nesting instincts gone wild, you might say. I was having fun with this concept and hoped that other moms might agree that these were some unusual and attractive slings.I can sew, but not at a professional level, so I hired good seamstresses early on. They have mostly come from entertainment & design backgrounds but my most valuable seamstress, Julie, is a full time mom who hails from Ireland. I’m very grateful for her talents.

I’ve been gearing up to handle more volume so that we can sell to more bricks & mortar shops both in the US and internationally. Our web sales are strong, but I think it’s a plus to be able to see our slings in person. I think the fit and fabrics impress even more in real life.
 
 

 

 

Andrea: How did you come up with the name Posh Papoose®?

 Rachel: I wanted something memorable, but catchy, and to convey the sense of style and quality hat drives our company. How many different ways can you refer to a baby sling? It was a creative challenge, and I’m glad I found something no one had thought of yet! I always planned to make other items too, so I tried to use a name that might extendable to the range of products we offer, not just slings. A “Papoose” refers not just to the sling itself, but also refers to the baby. And “Posh” lets you know that we’re about having fun with style too, and that a sling doesn’t have to be made from dull or juvenile fabrics – it can be sassy and have flair. My last name is “Panush”, so I thought that if our trademark was rejected (it wasn’t), then I’d call it “Posh Panush” instead.

Andrea: What sets the Posh Papoose® ring sling apart from all the other slings out there?

Rachel: There are many little details that go into our deceptively basic sling. Firstly, I hand pick high-quality, unique, beautiful fabrics from a variety of sources. We even offer eco-friendly Bamboo and Bamboo blends. Some of our pima cottons are very soft and light. I buy the biggest sling ring for the best adjustability. I have fine-tuned the length of the sling, the length of the rails and the size of the batting in the shoulder pad and pocket to be as perfect as possible for most people.  We customize upon request, but you can tell from our reviews that most people find our sling  very comfortable. It has a big pocket and a Velcro® tie that allows you to shorten the tail. When you put stuff in the pocket, it’s annoying when it bangs against your leg, so you can just hook it up to the rings, and voila, it’s not on your leg anymore! Our batting is very light and soft. We could make an unpadded sling, and it would be easier for us to make, but I think a little bit of cushion in the right spots makes it more comfortable for wearer and baby, and makes it easier to use by making the sides easier to find. When your baby is screaming, you don’t want to be searching for the sling rails and fiddling with the fit. You want to throw it on quickly and get your baby settled fast! I pride myself on quality construction and design, and they are all made in the USA, under my picky guidance.


Andrea: What is your favorite thing about owning a babywearing company?

 It’s  an extension of who I am – a mom with creativity and passion. I love design, textiles, parenting, babywearing, and entrepreneurship.  I get to help other parents be closer to their babies without sacrificing their own sense of style.  I think good products can be attractive, well made too, and it’s very satisfying when customers tell me they are happy with our slings and that they can’t live without it! I’m also having fun, by the way. I pick fabrics that I think have a playful spirit and I am enjoying myself. It’s just a pleasure to have an identity and activity that does not require tushy-wiping, you know?

Andrea: What is the most challenging/difficult thing about owning a babywearing company?

A lot of people still aren’t familiar with babywearing. It’s not a “Main Street” type of phenomenon yet in most of the country. So the burden is on us to explain what a sling is, what it does, why you should try it, and finally, why you should try ours!

 

Thank you, Rachel, for this interesting and inspiring interview, and for the high-quality product that you have put so much heart into.

If you would like to win a Posh Papoose gift pack, including a sling, child’s hat, and wipe pouch, please surf on over Posh Papoose and take a look at their non-silk slings. Then, come back here and leave a comment below, telling me which bamboo-cotton sling is your favorite.

Note: Rachel cannot promise that the hat, pouch and sling will match, but she’ll try her best to make sure the size and color of hat are appropriate for your baby’s age and gender.

To obtain extra entries for all of this week’s babywearing giveaways, feel free to do any or all of the following:

  • Blog about my babywearing Bonanza
  • Email five friends, with a Cc to me at: wamcmann(at)telebeep.(dot)com
  • Post the Babywearing Bonanza button in your sidebar
  • If you choose to do any of the following, please let me know, so I can add you to my extra entries list!

This giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m., CST, September 7.

 NOTE: There has been a change in the prize. The prize will be a non-silk Posh Papoose sling of winner’s choice, instead of bamboo-cotton. Bamboo-cotton is eligible, but subject to availability. No change on the hat or diaper pouch.

 


My mom used a baby carrier when I was an infant. I don’t remember it of course, but I can recall looking at a photo of the two of us, her looking happy with her 1980’s style glasses and teased hair, and a tiny me, only days old, snuggling contentedly inside her front pack carrier. Back in 1982, babywearing mamas didn’t have the abundance of carrier choices that we have today. In fact, only six years ago, when my first child was born, the babywearing market wasn’t nearly as saturated as it is today.

When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, one of the first baby care products I chose to buy was a baby carrier. Not knowing anything about babywearing, I figured a generic front pack carrier with tons of snaps and buckles, bought from a big box store, must be as good, or better than anything else on the market. Boy, was I wrong! That carrier was so uncomfortable–for me and my son both! I could count the times I wore that carrier on one hand, and each time, it seems I spent more time struggling into and out of the carrier than I did actually enjoying wearing my baby. I should have saved the $30 I spent on that carrier!

I also had a closed-tail ring sling with my son, but it wasn’t a whole lot better. It had far too much padding, making it just plain uncomfortable, and I had absolutely no experience with slings, so I didn’t know how to wear my baby correctly, making the sling quite uncomfortable and virtually useless. These two less-than-ideal experiences with babywearing caused me to give up. I figured that babywearing just wasn’t for me.

Fast forward three years, to the time when I was pregnant with my daughter. My son had recently been dealing with health issues, and I was terrified, thinking there was no way I’d be able to take care of two children at once. How would I ever keep up with housework? Would my son feel neglected? What if the baby wouldn’t let me put her down for naps? With these questions, among others, buzzing around in my mind, I looked into babywearing once again. I discovered the wrap-style carrier, and was very intrigued. It looked so comfortable and versatile! The more I looked at this style of carrier, the more I wanted one! Luckily, my birthday was a month before my due date. My mother bought me a wrap for my birthday, effectively starting me on the happier leg of my babywearing journey.

Over and over, after my daughter was born, I thanked my lucky stars for my baby carrier. She was a very intense baby, and although I love her more than life itself, that first six months would have been torture without my baby carrier! She cried more often than she did anything else; I literally feel, to this day, that my baby carrier saved my sanity. My daughter was only happy when she was snuggled close to me, able to listen to my heartbeat, and I was able to spend extra time with my son and get things done around the house, without having to put her down. For the first year of my daughter’s life, I probably wore that wrap carrier for 18 hours a day. She even took naps in it!

After my amazing experience with babywearing, I felt the need to share the wonderful gift that has been passed down from ancient times. A couple of months ago, my article, Babywearing: a Natural Fashion Statement, appeared in Natural Life. During my research for that article, I discovered so much about babywearing, including numerous brands of carriers that I am now in love with. I have become a baby carrier connoisseur, though I no longer even have a child who is young enough to be carried much. I decided to host this Babywearing Bonanza partly to celebrate my articles publication, but mostly to further promote babywearing. If even one parent benefits from my small amount of expertise, or even one mother is persuaded to give babywearing a try, I will feel like I have accomplished my mission.

I have a lot of great stuff in store for my Babywearing Bonanza. I hope you enjoy yourself, and please participate by adding your own babywearing stories below. I’d love to hear them!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.